Wedding Wednesday: Changing your name

Wedding planning is…going. I’ve sent half a dozen emails to half a dozen different people regarding the wedding. I’ve acquired addresses of friends and relatives I didn’t know I had. I’ve set meetings. I feel like I’m pretty on track, all things considered.
Today’s topic is a question for y’all: Did you change your last name when you married? If you’re not married, how do you feel about changing your name?
Personally, I am ambivalent about it. I have zero ideological qualms about changing or not changing my name. My concerns are more practical: changing my name on legal documents seems like a huge pain in the ass. Changing my name on things like my bank account, Netflix account, and USEA card seem like somewhat more minor pains in the ass. What about things like my email address, which has served me well since approximately 2006? And let’s not talk about how many items I’ve monogrammed with my current initials.
Opposite of this problem is the problem of not changing my name. Will that be a pain for other people? Will it matter if someday, someone writes a check to “Stephanie Lauderdale” instead of “Stephanie Peck” and I can’t cash it? If we have children, is it going to lead to weird assumptions and/or questions if I have a different last name?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. 
Don’t even suggest hyphenating, y’all. Fifteen characters is too many for me.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

35 thoughts on “Wedding Wednesday: Changing your name”

  1. I changed it and have no regrets. My initials stayed the same, so whatev. Although I, and most of my married female friends I know, did not change our names on our PayPal accounts. It's harder to change on PayPal than on Social Security, no kidding! Not worth it.

  2. I was pretty set on not changing my name, but my husband was really upset with the idea. Eventually I decided that even though I loved my old last name and it was easier to get people to spell right, it was the same number of letters and worth pleasing my husband. I surprised him with a return address stamp with his last name on it at our rehearsal dinner and he was very touched.
    I don't regret doing it and it's surprising how quickly you can acclimate to giving up a last name you've had all your life! Changing names on things wasn't hard (besides that one share of McD's stock I got as a gift that still has my maiden name because they wanted 8 pages of paper filled out to change it!) but I didn't have many accounts at the time. I have no problem cashing my McD's dividend check of 80 cents each quarter with my maiden name on it, lol.
    That said, all of my closest friends kept their last names and I think it's pretty common.
    Maybe a good excuse to get new monogrammed things? There are articles on how to remove the iron on ones out there.

    1. Johnny's said he doesn't care one way or another if I change it- I think his grandmother would be more upset, hahaha!

      And I mean, any excuse to get new monogrammed things is a good one. 😉

  3. I changed my name, and although it went from four letters to approximately a gazillion, I have no regrets! It's a total PITA to change your name on all your accounts, but that's really only a process of a couple weeks or so, in comparison to a lifetime spent with your new last name. I think it's more common to change your name, and thus more expected, and you end up spending less time explaining it to people. Although when people call you "Mrs. So-And-So" it's incredibly weird… even after being married over 3 years, it's still weird for me!

    1. The "explaining it to people" part is such a pain. I hate explaining things to people, regardless of what they are: explaining to a contractor that we are not married, but I am totally cool to authorize financial decisions, explaining to a relative that a wedding dress isn't a Big Deal, explaining what three-day eventing is…

  4. I mostly changed my name. What I actually did was make my maiden name my second middle name and my official last name is my husbands. I was really hesitant about changing my name mostly for professional reasons, but also some personal. I liked my last name. If I had been more well known, or had more publications under my maiden name, I probably would have kept it. My husband really wanted me to have his name for reasons I don't fully understand. At work I'm now use both last names in my signature, so that people recognize who I am (kind of like hyphenating, but not quite), but most of the time I just use my new last name. Confused? I don't think having different last names from your husband or kids is that big of a deal anymore, but I also grew up with a last name different from my mom's and brother's last name.

    1. You do have kind of a convoluted name situation, but I understand! My mother did something similar when she married my father, and then just dropped his last name when they got divorced. (Just adding the maiden name to the middle name certainly made THAT easier hahaha!!)

      I don't think it's a huge thing to have a different last name than your husband or kids, either. Definitely less unusual than it used to be!

    2. I wanted to add, after reading some of the comments below that I didn't find changing it all that difficult. The two big places are the SS office and the BMV. Be sure to get your SS first. Kind of fortunately, I had to go to the BMV anyways to renew, so it was just another piece of paperwork. After that, everything else was much easier. There are actually a couple of things that I still haven't changed over that I need to. But I think once you have those first two documents changed, everything else down the line should be fine, even if you wait.

  5. I changed my name, but it took a year. It was also a huge pain in the ass. For a while, I regretted it. When I lost my maiden name, I felt like I wasn't "me" anymore. It sounds silly, but it's kind of more jarring than you think it would be! Now almost four years later I'm completely fine being a Mauldin.

    1. I can imagine! I am pretty used to being Stephanie Peck (or stejpeck…steplaud just doesn't have the same ring). And how big of a pain in the ass are we talking?

  6. I changed my name. I wanyed to be "Mrs" and when we had children's we'd all be "The Isbisters". I never loved my previous last name but I kind of miss it sometimes…people have a harder time spelling/pronouncing my name now. The majority of my friends chose not to change their last name.

    1. I hadn't considered the "Mrs" thing! I mean, it certainly wouldn't offend me if something called me "Mrs Lauderdale" vs "Ms Peck", but I can see people being worried about which is correct.

  7. I didn't change mine yet, but I did the paperwork when we got married to allow me to. You can add it as a future option and not actually do it. I was told it's a huge pain to try to change it later if you didn't select for it at the time of marriage. I'm still using my own name because professionally, I have a lot of seo done for this name that I'd lose with a change.

  8. I changed mine. It was very important to my husband and I had no particular attachment to my previous name. The initial legal paperwork was a long day of standing in lines, but whatever. I still haven't changed my name on Paypal because they are RIDICULOUS. Whatever. It works.

  9. I went from the most common name possible le to one.still pretty common. :/ was always hoping for something cool. But I didn't really care either way. Spouse wanted me to change but didn't pressure. Took me about a year to do it. Do not change before gmat!

    I think if you have reason to keep its valid. Just personal preference.

  10. I actually am taking a break from fighting with mail merge to do our save the dates right now, talk about timing!

    I will not under any circumstances be changing my name. I will remain first middle last until the day I die. I like my name. It has 400 years of history in America behind it. It's the name I'm known by professionally, where I have worked hard to build an excellent reputation in a small field. It works with my first name. It's MINE.

    Fiance doesn't care, though I wish he would stop telling people it's because his name is terrible. It's not. It's a fine last name. I have no objections to his name or his family or anything like that that people keep assuming. I just wanted MY NAME. But wow, people do get their panties in a twist when they hear about it.

    My brother just got married and he would've made a huge stink if his wife hadn't changed her name. Two friends of mine got married and created an entirely new last name together! His last name was long and hyphenated, so he gave her the choice of which of the two names to pick, and then he made his middle name her maiden name. So they are both so-and-so Smith Worthington (um not their real name, but you get the idea).

    I think the takeaway for me when I first started figuring this out was that everyone gets SUPER emotional and fraught about it, whatever your final decision!

  11. I did not change my name. Like Amanda, my last name has over 200 years of history that's tied in with my country's history and leads all the way back to Spain. There is only a handful of people in the world with my last name and we're all related. My grandfather would have had a fit if I'd changed my name.

    Also, my mom did change her name when she got married. 14 years later, my parents divorced and it was such a huge PITA for her to change her name back that she just kept the married last name on her driver's license and social security. Which really sucks considering what my dad did to our family.

    I thankfully married into a family where ALL the women have kept their last names. My mother in law, my sister in law. They consider it good luck: everyone is super happily married. My in-laws still adore one another, hug and hold hands in public after 40 years together. No one minded when I kept my last name. 🙂 And my husband thinks it's funny when he gets called "Mr. -insert MY last name".

    1. I just realized this whole thing sounds confusing: to make it even more confusing, I hyphenate my dad's and mom's last names. It's my mom's maiden last name that I refuse to let go of. Yay weird Hispanic traditions! 😉

  12. I changed my name and was happy to see my old name go (hard to pronounce, parents had a messy divorce so I'm no longer connected to anyone on that side of the family, etc). It was a pain to change things over, Canadian passport being the absolute worst. There are still things I have not changed (Paypal among them, but credit cards and some bills too!) and it had been almost 5 years so…. yeah. Totally support either way; it's all personal preference, I think.

  13. It was really important to my husband to take his name, and I gladly did so. But OMG just go ahead and plan a couple of days to devote to figuring out all the paperwork and junk associated with trying to change your name. It's so much. Also, my new signature sucks…still working on that!

  14. I had no regrets about changing mine. The way I handled changing my last name with everything was simple. Make a list of evey place you need to change your name, make yourself do at least one a week and just mail them a copy of your marriage license. Also the SS office wasn't too bad. Go at like 10am on a Tuesday.

  15. I'm not in a position to comment as no SO or wedding on the horizon. My mother didn't change her name, I don't think it has ever been a problem. As others have said at the end of the day it's a personal preference.
    You could always do a Phoebe & become Princess Consuela Banana-hammok; -)

  16. I didn't change my last name, it's the name I use professionally and I wasn't digging having to file all that paperwork, etc to get it changed. My in-laws still don't know that I haven't made the official switch (father in law makes a HUGE deal of calling me by my "new" last name). The only place I use it is on Facebook. Haven't ever had an issue with cashing a check made out to my new name. My husband was actually insistent that I keep my maiden name, he said it was who I was and he didn't want me to change it. I ponder hyphenating, but our names both end in 'er' and have multiple syllables and it just didn't flow.

  17. Although many people in my office kept their name professionally and use their husband's name in their personal life, I opted to switch over completely to my husband's name. I thought it would be too complicated to be two names!

    It wasn't so bad changing all of my documents, a call to most credit card companies changed my name there, same for utilities. The DMV was probably most annoying because I had to go there, but it wasn't the worst thing ever. I also had to change my professional license and even that just required a letter with a copy of my marriage license.

    Plus, it made me feel more "married" to take my husband's name (if that makes any sense whatsoever), and certainly made him very happy. And then I got to get new things with my new initials on them!!

  18. I changed my name, and while some of the documents were annoying it wasn't that bad. All I have left to do is my passport but since I don't travel out of the country like ever, I'm not super worried about that. I always knew that I wanted to change my name, so it was never really a question for me. Although, my mom was a little upset that I just dropped my maiden name completely — she replaced her middle name with her maiden name when she got married — but whatevs.

    I think it's really all about what you want and feel most comfortable with.

  19. My maiden name became part of my middle name. So I have two middle names. The lawyer working our house closing laughed in my face when I wrote it all out because she said that I would always have to write it out on legal documents concerning our house. Seven plus eight plus seven plus five. So, technically, my monogam should be rBcc. But I just do the rBc, because who gives a shit? I also kept my maiden email address, which confuses people sometimes, but I've been using it since college and I have a separate one that is more current for professional correspondence.

  20. Okay, I typed a long thing but it didn't play nice.

    As you know, I hyphenated my last name when I got married (I already had three middle names and didn't want to make my maiden name my FOURTH, I have professional stuff in my maiden name, and the husband indicated he would like me to have his name). I'm glad you're not considering it. It's been a massive pain. My insurance has my name as a gigantic one-word glob, my debit card and social security has it as two names (the hyphen doesn't exist in a lot of systems), my dentist has my husband's name, I go by my maiden name at work…the only place it's accurate is my driver's license.

    That being said, the paperwork to change my name was very simple and a fairly stress-free process. If you don't specify that you didn't change your name, everyone will assume you have anyway (I get SO much mail to Mrs. Gxxxxxx). If the husband and I have children, they'll all have his name. I hate to sound sexist, but since you're ambivalent, have you asked the J-man his thoughts?

    1. You have so many names. Sometimes, I like to repeat them to Johnny, because it's kind of fun to say them all lolz. (I also sometimes consider writing your whole name on envelopes addressed to you, but I'm sort of afraid the post office would think it's a joke?)

      Johnny doesn't care if I change my name or not; he's said more than once that he won't be offended or hurt if I decide to keep my maiden name. I think future children would definitely bear his last name (how else will J.A.L. XXX or XL come to be??), but as for me, I'm sort of thinking about just staying plain old Stephanie Peck!

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